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Fantasia International Film Festival

Fantasia 2023: ‘Killing Romance’ Movie Review, Pros and Cons



Lee Sun-kyun as Jonathan Na and Lee Ha-nee as Yeo-rae in film, 'Killing Romance'. Photo provided by Fantasia International Film Festival
Lee Sun-kyun as Jonathan Na and Lee Ha-nee as Yeo-rae in film, 'Killing Romance'. Photo provided by Fantasia International Film Festival

Killing Romance Review: An unemployed plucky hero tries to ‘rescue’ a former actress turned bored housewife from her self-centered (but rich) husband in this ‘attempted murder comedy’. Next level simp culture.

It’s a fun ’80s style throwback film from South Korea that even throws an old school moustache on its wealthy narcissistic husband villain Jonathan Na. “It’s Good!”

This Killing Romance film review contains spoilers. The movie was screened at the 2023 Fantasia International Film Festival on August 4.

Pros and Cons of Killing Romance


• Actor Lee Sun-kyun steals the show in Killing Romance as Jonathan Na with a campy, satirical portrayal of an elitist megalomaniac. His catch phrase “It’s Good!” in English with both thumbs up only becomes more comical as the movie carries on.

Real charisma here and an actor to keep tabs on.

Lee Sun-kyun as Jonathan Na in film, 'Killing Romance'. Photo provided by Fantasia International Film Festival

Lee Sun-kyun as Jonathan Na in film, ‘Killing Romance’. Photo provided by Fantasia International Film Festival

• The attempted murder schemes by Yeo-rae (actress Lee Ha-nee) and her accomplice to be Bum-woo (actor Gong Myoung) are over-the-top, entertaining Looney Tunes fare. They bring you back to the days of Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner in your childhood.

‘Killing Romance’ doesn’t take itself too seriously, which aids the production.

• Yeo-rae and Bum-woo trying to take out Jonathan Na by heating up a steam room and challenging him to beat a record of 20 minutes in there is suspenseful comedy. Well executed scene.

• Simple, easy to follow plot line about an unhappy princess type trying to bump off her powerful, politically connected husband to get her career back.

• Although this film has some spoken English in it, even if it didn’t, you’re never lost.

• The fictional B-Movie line about “saving Korea” that tanks Yeo-rae’s career at the onset of Killing Romance is a pretty fun watch. Nothing ham-fisted here.

Killing Romance succeeds in making Bum-woo a self-insert character, an every day bumbling lazy man who day dreams during tests as a student. You inevitably cheer for Bum-woo to win Yeo-rae’s heart against the impossible odds of the ‘better man’ Jonathan Na.

• Yeo-rae’s cult of simps who buy her every product and dance to her every whim (even attempted murder) is so grounded in reality & truth, it’s almost scary and deserves reflection.

• Top notch cinematography, visually impressive mansions and beaches. Feeling of a grand, majestic open world. No claustrophobia here, you always feel the characters are living on a vast set with endless doors and scenery. High production value.

• Ending outtake of Jonathan Na lost at sea yelling for his henchman is a fun post-credit scene worth the wait.


• Poisoning Jonathan’s dinner seems like an obvious go-to murder scheme and Killing Romance uses his peanut allergy against him. While it raises the stakes and makes it a tense, glued to your screen scene…

Considering how many people already disregard others’ food allergies, it felt extra cruel to see him on the floor begging for an EpiPen after the fact.

Even Bum-woo couldn’t live with it and tries to help him. The scene takes the shine off Yeo-rae quite a bit as a mistreated heroine of sorts.

• You’ll either like the sudden musical, song elements or it’ll mostly break the film’s immersion for you. It’s a take it or leave it kind of thing.


• Bum-woo being able to speak to ostriches takes the film into outrageous territory. The CGI for the ostriches also feels too obvious and takes you out of the movie a bit. Seemed like the last leg of the film on Jonathan’s theme park island took too wild of a turn.

• The movie attempts to force Jonathan as a villain by having him shoot an ostrich to take away the sympathies from his allergic peanut reaction scene earlier.

• Yeo-rae’s story introduction by the film’s English narrator is strong on its own. The intentional VHS style 4:3 crop over it seems unnecessary, especially when the rest of the film is a visual pleaser and doesn’t rely on these kind of parlor tricks of the cinema.

• Bum-woo never gets to date Yeo-rae despite all his efforts, which might come as a disappointment to many after the buildup. Though he does get to indulge in her new films at the end of Killing Romance as a simp fan would. The closest he gets is holding Yeo-rae’s hand at one point.

Killing Romance Review Score: 8.0

Killing Romance is an entertaining, fun movie, simple as that. No agendas, no overt on-the-nose social messages. It’s like a fairy tale storybook.

Sure, the film could have stuck more to its core ‘comedic attempted murder scheme’ concept more instead of the ostriches. But you won’t be let down. An ’80s styled new age cult classic.

'Killing Romance' movie poster. Photo provided by Fantasia International Film Festival

‘Killing Romance’ movie poster. Photo provided by Fantasia International Film Festival

Killing Romance Cast – Principle Leads, Plot Synopsis, Trailer

Lee Ha-nee as Yeo-rae

Lee Sun-kyun as Jonathan Na

Gong Myoung as Bum Woo


Director Lee Won-suk

Screenwriter Park Jung-yae

PLOT SYNOPSIS:“In this age of instant celebrities heralded for the oddest of accomplishments, Yeo-rae (Lee Ha-nee) has hit the jackpot. After setting a Guinness World Record for excessively consuming a popular soft drink, she establishes herself as a model and actress. However, what goes up quickly comes down, and hard.
An embarrassing performance in a ridiculous B-movie makes her the laughingstock of the entire country. Exhausted and disillusioned, Yeo-rae travels to a Pacific island where she meets Jonathan Na (Lee Sun-kyun), a wealthy environmentalist… Whom she immediately marries.
Seven years later, the couple return to Korea and Yeo-rae has another painful reckoning. Her Prince Charming is in reality a narcissistic, controlling, violent jerk who treats her like a luxury doll, keeping her prisoner in his castle.
But the tide could be turning, as her neighbor Bum-woo (Gong Myoung), a bumbling student, is in fact her number-one fan, desperate to see her back on the screen.
The unlikely duo decide to do away with Jonathan, but the best laid plans of Yeo-rae’s knight in shining armor are dubious at best.”

– Killing Romance had its Canadian Premiere at the 2023 Fantasia Film Festival.

More 2023 Fantasia International Film Festival News

Be sure to read & watch:

Fantasia 2023: Juliet Mills Video Interview on The Primevals

Director Yurina Kaneko Interview: ‘People Who Talk to Plushies Are Kind’ film

Fantasia 2023: Director Mark H. Rapaport Interview on HIPPO

Enjoyed this Killing Romance Review? Visit the Fantasia International Film Festival section for the latest festival film reviews before they hit the box office!

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